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UN finds evidence of war crimes in Libya

The United Nations says all sides to the conflict in Libya have committed acts that amount to war crimes as well as other rights abuses over the past two years.

A group of six UN human rights officers cited evidence of executions of captives, assassinations of prominent female activists, widespread torture, sexual crimes, abductions, indiscriminate military attacks on civilian areas, and abuse of children in Libya between 2014 and 2015.

“A multitude of actors, both state and non-state, are accused of very serious violations and abuses that may, in many cases, amount to war crimes,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in a statement.

The 95-page report, which was published on Thursday, is based on interviews with 200 witnesses and victims and 900 individual complaints.

The document contains details of “unlawful killings” carried out by most major armed group in Libya.

Different factions have beaten those detained or held captive with plastic pipes and electrical cables, and subjected them to extended suspension in stress positions, electrocution and lack of food, it said.

Thousands of people are reportedly in detention, most without any proper examination of their cases.

The report also pointed to sexual violence against women, girls and boys as young as 10 and said sexual abuse is prevalent in detention sites.

“One of the most striking elements of this report lies in the complete impunity which continues to prevail in Libya and the systemic failures of the justice system,” Zeid said.

In the summer of 2014, Libya’s government fled the capital, Tripoli, after a militia alliance captured the city under the cover of NATO airstrikes.

The militia alliance formed its own administration and parliament called the General National Congress (GNC). The internationally-recognized parliament is based in Tobruk.

A unity government has been nominated under a UN-sponsored plan but has not won approval yet.

Militants affiliated with the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group are also present in the oil-rich country, attempting to gather local support.

Gains against militants

On Tuesday, Libyan army units, backed by civilian fighters, managed to clear a major part of the eastern city of Benghazi from militants, including Daesh Takfiris.

A Libyan woman flashes the sign for victory next to a fighter loyal to Libya’s internationally-recognized government in Benghazi, Feb. 23, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Special Forces retook the Benghazi area of al-Laithi, which had been a stronghold for armed groups after days of fierce fighting.

Following the major gain, people took to the streets to celebrate the victory while families displaced from the district tried to go back to the area to revisit their homes.

Libya has been grappling with violence and political uncertainty since former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and later killed in 2011 amid NATO airstrikes.

Daesh took control of Libya’s northern port city of Sirte in June 2015, almost four months after it announced its presence in the city, and made it the first city to be ruled by the militant group outside of Iraq and Syria.

Media reports said on Wednesday that Libyan Special Forces had detained several senior members of Daesh in the northwestern city of Sabratha.

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